Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: September 10, 2013
Info about author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Age Group: YA
Pages: 445 (kindle edition)

Rating: 5/5

Description (from Goodreads):

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My thoughts:

This book was so wonderful! It was funny, imaginative, occasionally heart breaking, occasionally heart fluttering and most importantly, very real and honest. I seriously had tears falling down my face when I finished with it because I knew that I had just found one of my favorite books of all time. 

Cath is a freshman in college, an English major with a love for fantasy stories and fictional characters. She is a Simon Snow fan (Simon Snow, Rowell's fictional book series, is kind of like Harry Potter, a story about magic, good and evil and people with magical powers in a boarding school type of setting) - she had read the books several times, she has seen the movies, and most importantly, she has created stories for the Simon Snow characters on her own, making her one of the most read Simon Snow fanfiction writers. Being a fan is a way of life for her - she lives and breaths for Simon and his magical world.

Fangirling used to be an activity Cath exercised with her twin sister Wren, but once they get to college in Lincoln, Nebraska, Cath quickly realizes Wren's interest in Simon is fleeting - she is much more interested about socializing with her new school mates, attending parties and hooking up with boys. Unfortunately, Cath cannot let go. Simon is a part of her, a part she does not want to lose, a part that defines her. Not only is Cath losing her fangirling buddy, she is also losing the roommate she thought she would have - Wren has decided it would be better if they lived separately and Cath is left with a roommate she does not know, a roommate so completely different than herself that at first she feels like she does not fit in at all. And then there's Levi, her roommates boyfriend who keeps hanging around at their room, making Cath tell things about herself she did not imagine she would share with someone... especially not with a boy. 

With a fiction writing class that is not going at all like she planned and a problematic father back in Omaha, Cath is not sure she can balance all the newness and still be herself and the girl she used to be.

Words cannot express how much I loved Cath. She is funny, artistic, creative, sarcastic and just so true to herself. But she is not perfect either - she might judge things and people too fast, and she might not be the best communicator out there. The way Rowell has build Cath is amazing - she is a well-rounded, interesting character who develops throughout the narrative in very realistic, multi-dimensional ways. And then there's Levi - he is not the regular-type of handsome, I guess, but there is something in him that makes him so dreamy and desirable and swoon worthy. The relationships between the characters, especially between Cath and Levi, are so well built - they take their time and they have their ups and downs. 

There are not many characters I have identified with as much as I identified with Cath. I was a university freshman three years ago and I feel like much of Cath's thoughts and actions matched mine. I hate parties and socializing has always been difficult for me - I don't know how to be "cool" and how to talk to people in party-type situations. I rather stayed in my room, read and watched a film, occasionally even wrote something. I am still very much like I was three years ago, but like Cath, I hope I have grown at least a little bit. I admired Cath's passion for what she loved - I feel like what Simon was for Cath, film is for me (I'm a film student). For her being a fangirl is a way of life, something she is good at. And though I don't like to compliment myself too often, I can honestly say I am pretty good at being a fangirl too.


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